Nicholas Tsoulos, M.D.
Children's Primary Medical Group
Is there anything I can do to take the hurt out of teething?
Answer: It’s true that many infants are uncomfortable while teething and this can make parents concerned in part because it takes about two years on average for most of the primary teeth to appear.
The natural process of teething generally begins at about six months of age although I have seen infants up to one year who still have a toothless grin! Typically, the two bottom front teeth, also known as the central incisors, are the first to sprout.
Because teething involves opening tender gum tissue, this naturally causes discomfort. To what degree this makes your child irritable varies, but proven techniques can help minimize the soreness and other symptoms that accompany teething, such as drooling.
I do not like using numbing lotions that contain benzocaine for infants and children. Instead, oral infant acetaminophen may be used to help ease discomfort. Fever is not usually associated with teething. If your baby develops a fever of 100.5 degrees or higher, or if you are concerned for any reason, please call your pediatrician for advice.
Parents can try a variety of time-proven techniques to soothe the gums during teething. This includes using a chilled teething ring, giving your infant a clean baby rag to suck on and massaging the gums with your finger. Avoid using any items that can become entangled around the neck. At this young age, I discourage giving hard foods such as carrot sticks, which may cause choking, or Popsicles, which may damage soft gum tissue.
Dental hygiene starts as soon as the first tooth appears. Use a baby toothbrush, washcloth or finger wrap to clean the teeth. Toothpaste is not necessary, but if used make it fluoride-free, as fluoride is present in the tap water in our area and excessive amounts can damage teeth. Children should see the dentist by the time they are one or two years old.